Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.
1.22 All German Findings kept secret 1995-1998!
That the Commission was going to blame the accident on the visor locks - design fault - was known early, as the Commission already nineteen days after the accident and in the Part report in April 1995 had stated it. But not until fourteen (!) months later, in December 1995, the Commission was in written contact with the German group of experts of the shipyard (which itself investigated the accident 3.13 and requested information about how the visor locks actually had been designed and manufactured (17).
It was to say the least remarkable. The Commission had de facto concluded in the Part report 1.19, that when the yard built the visor, sufficient detailed installation instructions, etc., were lacking. The Germans had protested against that and many other statements of the Commission, after having read the Part report, already in August and October 1995.
On 27 October 1995 the Germans sent a letter to the Commission (act B125**) with what the Germans thought that the Commission had accepted at earlier unofficial meetings, i.a.:
1. ...the original certificate (for the 'Viking Sally') issued 1980 was about coastal trading between Finland and Sweden.
The Commission never replied to the German letter - it was made secret according to the Swedish secrecy law SL 8:6 decided by Forssberg and was not official until 9 March 1998!
The Germans, but no other outsiders, had been permitted to examine the visor. And the Germans thought already in October 1995 that the Atlantic (the bottom) visor lock had been broken, when the visor had been bent or twisted 15° relative the ship centre line, i.e. it was not broken by an outside wave load in the aft/upward direction. Furthermore the Germans stated that the visor could not pull open the ramp, as the ramp locks were too strong! The Germans thus disapproved totally the whole course of events already in October 1995 (compare Hellberg 1.44), apart from demonstrating that the maintenance and the condition of the visor were bad. However, the Commission ignored all German statements and told the media other information. Instead - on 21 December 1995 - the Commission (Stenström) in a fax (act B130a) wanted that the shipyard should confirm that the visor was incorrectly designed/manufactured!? Quite a strange accident investigation method!
The shipyard - or rather the German group of expert - replied on 22 January 1996 that the installation instructions were crystal clear and could not have been misunderstood by the welders. This letter was recorded as act number B137** by the SHK (18) and was also made secret as per the Swedish secrecy law SL 8:6 by Forssberg. No written reply was ever given. The public had no knowledge about all this at the time.
In a letter 22 July 1996 (act B155** (19)), the yard stated that it assumed that the Commission was satisfied with the earlier statements, which should have been confirmed by telephone, i.e. that the visor was correctly designed and manufactured by the yard. The Germans produced more information in the letter, e.g. that the visor had been lost long after the sudden listing, which should have taken place at 01.02 hrs (and not 01.15 hrs as suggested by the Commission) and that the ship later floated in a stable condition with 40-50 degrees list with the funnel into the wind (based on survivors statements). The Germans requested that another ten parts or objects should be salvaged from the wreck for complete analysis and that eight further areas should be filmed for examination and that the watertight doors should be investigated. This letter was also made secret as per SL 8:6 by Forssberg and was not made public until March 1998, i.e. three months after the Final report (5) was published. All German evidences were not analysed by the Commission and the requests for further examinations were ignored. The public had no idea that the Commission was hiding evidence.
All above letters evidently did not contain any information that should have been made secret according to Swedish secrecy law SL 8:6. The reason for secrecy was to hide the errors in the previous, public statements of the Commission and to fool the public.
The defects noted by the Germans may have affected the course of events as proposed by the Commission. The other observations of the Germans showed that the alleged course of events was not possible. It seems that the Commission could only do one thing - keep the German letters secret - and hope that they were forgotten after the publication of the Final report. It seems to be standard procedure when you falsify History.
The Final report (5) does not mention any of the German proven facts with one word, which is collusion. And the Germans never protested.
But let's now take a look at the watertight subdivision and integrity of the 'Estonia'. How could a ship with total 14 watertight compartments suddenly sink?